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Behind the Scenes

Brockton orchestra’s concert to include dancers from local academy

The Brockton Symphony Orchestra.

J. Kiely Jr./Lightchaser Photography

The Brockton Symphony Orchestra.

Drawing up the program for “Invitation to the Dance,” a concert of classical music based on dance, the Brockton Symphony Orchestra decided to extend an invitation to a local dance school, the Matta Dance Academy. 

As a result, young dancers from the school will take part in this weekend’s concert, performing solos, duos, and corps dances — as well as some cartwheels and tumbling.

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One of the orchestra’s executive committee members “threw out a title, ‘Invitation to the Dance,’ ” music director James Orent said last week. In fact, Orent said, there is a well-known classical work of that name by 19th-century composer Carl Maria von Weber, a lively piece with orchestration by Berlioz. 

The next step, Orent said, was the realization that, “Gee, it would be great if we had actual dancers involved.”

Lisa Matta Paze, owner and artistic director of the Matta Dance Academy in Brockton, readily accepted the invitation.

“There’s nothing like a real orchestra,” Paze said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the kids. They’re used to dancing to CDs and iPods.”

Dancers will perform in three works, “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” by Debussy, “Scenes from Nutcracker Ballet” by Tchaikovsky, and “Auf der Jagd” (”On the Hunt”) by Johann Strauss Jr.

“Debussy is known for Impressionism, painting in tone colors, flashes of light, and atmosphere,” Orent said of the Prelude, which evokes a world of mythological spirits. “You can feel the heat of the summer afternoon with the faun resting in the heat of the day and nymphs lying around him.”

It features an atmospheric flute solo to be performed by the orchestra’s Susan Kaplan.  

Orent chose the full “Nutcracker” ballet, rather than the more familiar suite (consisting of excerpts from the ballet), to share some of the less well-known scenes from Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece. These include an opening march, the moment when “the clock strikes midnight and the magic begins,” and finally a forest scene staging “the most gorgeous pas de deux. It’s to die for,” the conductor said.

The Strauss Jr. piece is a fast polka. Orent plans some audience participation — by use of hands, not feet.

Also on the program is The “Polonaise Brilliante No.1 in D Major” by Henryk Wieniawski, a 19th-century Polish composer who excelled on works for the violin. The Polonaise is “free and highly spirited with absolutely brilliant color orchestration. Lots of accents, staccato, brilliant soaring melodies,” Orent said.

“When you talk about great violin virtuoso composers, you say Paganini and Sarasate, but another one near the top is Wieniawski,” he said.

The soloist on this piece is Aldís Elfarsdóttir, winner of the orchestra’s solo youth competition last year and “an up-and-coming prodigy,” Orent said.

The orchestra will perform Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dance in C Major,” written in the style of his country’s folk music.

Excerpting from Stravinsky’s 20th-century classic “Firebird Ballet,” Orent chose the “Berceuse and Finale” movements, once again featuring excerpts not included in the well-known suite to give the audience a taste of something they might not have heard.

Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate is another great violin virtuoso composer. His “Navarra, Spanish Dances for Two Violins” sounds like “dueling Paganini caprices. It’s absolutely wild,” Orent said. Soloists are Elfarsdóttir and Kristina Nilsson, the Brockton orchestra’s concertmaster, or first violin.

“She’s a ubiquitous Boston musician,” Orent said of Nilsson, who performs with the Boston Pops, Boston Ballet, and other regional ensembles. “She is one of the go-to concertmasters in town,” he said.

The concert will close with a so far unannounced encore, a familiar and rollicking dance piece that both Orent and Paze predict will be a lot of fun.

“The girls will be doing cartwheels, tumbling, high-kicking,” Paze said.

Paze said 14 dancers from her academy will take part in the concert, including 11 high school and three college students from Brockton, Bridgewater, and other area communities. In addition to classical ballet barre work, she teaches “contemporary ballet and lyrical ballet” to her students.

“They’re really good kids, dedicated kids,” Paze said. “They also study music and play in orchestras in their schools.”

The Brockton Symphony Orchestra will seat some 65 musicians, with augmented percussion and brass sections, but can’t have too many musicians on stage for this concert, Orent said.

“We have to leave space for the dancers.”

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.
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